26 August 2009

"Cosmetic, rather than structural..." - indeed

A spokesman for Iarnród Éireann (Ireland's state-owned railways) has declared that an underwater inspection of the railway viaduct that collapsed last Friday close to Malahide in Co. Dublin (see my entries of August 22nd & 23rd) was "carried out in line with regulations" three years ago.

Barry Kenny explained that underwater inspections on all rail bridges and related structures are carried out every six years, apparently in line with the recommendations of the Railway Safety Commission.

As reported, last Friday evening a 20-metre-long section of the rail viaduct across the Broadmeadow estuary (photo), north of Malahide station, collapsed into the water shortly after a passing train driver had noticed damage on the line.

Iarnród Éireann confirmed today that concern had been expressed by "a member of the public" on Monday, August 17th about "erosion on the viaduct".

In response an engineer (the one mentioned and referred to in my entry of August 23rd) carried out an inspection the following day - Tuesday, August 18th - on the basis of the reported concern.
"He found that the markings were cosmetic, rather than structural," says Barry Kenny.

He emphasises that "the individual who contacted the company referred to markings on the pier, but did not refer to a change in the water flow". (A report telling a different story has appeared in today's edition of The Irish Times.)

Once again Iarnród Éireann is trying to re-assure Ireland's rail passengers and the general population that there is no reason to be worried.
The company provides all sorts of detailed information, but does not answer the main questions that are on everyone's mind.

It is simply not believable that a solid concrete structure could be fine and in perfect order on a Tuesday, and then collapse on the following Friday, only three days later.

One has to ask oneself if one can in future believe anything that Iarnród Éireann is saying.

The state-owned, run-down and loss-making Irish railway company has long been neglected by successive Irish governments (of various party structure), while its employees enjoy their safe and cosy jobs and think that the railway is simply there to provide them with a good living.

Would anyone in Iarnród Éireann have a look at other countries, where railways are doing well and are run for the benefit of passengers instead of its staff, they could learn a thing or two and begin to operate a decent railway system in Ireland once again.

But as things are at present, Iarnród Éireann is a sad and typical example of the state Ireland, its economy and its political system are in.
The collapsed viaduct in Co. Dublin speaks for itself and is a monument for the company's total ignorance and failure.
And the weak attempts of explanation offered by Mr. Barry Kenny only add insult to injury. The people of Ireland might be in general a bit gullible, but most of them are not stupid.
And certainly not yours truly,

The Emerald Islander
(a regular user of Iarnród Éireann)

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